Critical Condition

AHIP/PriceWaterhouse Blowback?

Full disclosure (in the spirit of James C. Capretta): I don’t do consulting work for private health insurers, and I doubt they’d have me. I share Benjamin Zycher’s frustration with the various corporate interests, including AHIP (the health-insurers’ trade association), which have managed to get the enemy (government) “exactly where they want us,” with their eager appeasement of the ruling faction.

All intellectual capitalists since Adam Smith have known that we cannot rely on business to carry our philosophical water for us, but even I’m amazed that AHIP has waited so long to release a report (so ably summarized by Mr. Capretta), that describes how the Baucus memorandum (it’s not a “bill”) will destroy Americans’ access to private health care. Indeed, they waited so long that the PriceWaterhouseCoopers report has revived the so-called “public option.”

The health insurers have become so committed to the idea of the federal government ordering people to buy health insurance, that the media and most laypeople are convinced that the “public option” is the only way to prevent insurers from gouging beneficiaries.

The government is not going to change tack as long as the corporate interests are encouraging it to assume greater power over Americans’ access to medical services. Instead, it’s time for AHIP to change tack, abandon the ill-founded notion of mandatory health insurance, and adopt a policy advocating individual choice and responsibility.

— John R. Graham is director of Health Care Studies at the Pacific Research Institute.